There exists an axiom, uttered by wise men throughout history. Even if you are not particularly wise, if you utter this phrase you will appear to be wise, if only for the briefest of moments. It is advice, which is timeless, utterly true, and worthy of passing down from generation to generation. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were wise men. One could argue that they really did not get much if anything wrong. Although, over the years we have added some language that seemed as if it should be in there.
You have to believe, that when the framers went about the business of designing the key elements of what our government should look like, and how it should operate, they put a lot of brainpower and forethought into the process. In fact, they took great pains to ensure that the power of the Federal Government should not exceed the rights of individual States.
One of the cornerstones of this strategy rested in how United States Senators were selected. It was not until 1914 that the people directly elected U.S. Senators. Until then, and according to the design of the framers, State Legislators of each state elected representatives to the Senate.
I am generally not inclined to support ideas, which remove control from the citizens; however, in this case I believe that the wisdom of the original framers was prophetic. Today, the United States Senate is broken. It wasn’t broken, but we tried to fix it anyway with the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We violated that old axiom which is, was, and always will be true.
As originally planned, individual State governments had a voice in setting Federal policy by electing their representatives to the Senate. Upon ratification of the 17th Amendment, that voice was lost. Now the Federal Government rules supreme and it is constantly threatening to withhold federal tax revenue if State Legislatures do not fall in lockstep with Federal mandates.
The U.S. Senate, although elected by the citizens, is one area of government in which citizens have little control. We get to elect our own two Senators; however, that means that we cannot touch the other 98 percent of that power structure. The Senate, filled with career politicians, should scare the heck out of all of us. Many have little to no idea what it is like to start and successfully run a small business. Some have no experience in the job market, or working at the pleasure of someone else.
The framers envisioned a system, composed of citizens, who if called upon, would devote a short slice of their lives to the service of their country. It was a common sense concept that has been lost to history, yet the logic still rings true today. Instead, what we have are entrenched politicians. Many have been squatting on public property for decades.
The business of the United States Senate is vitally important. There are only one hundred Senators, too few under any stretch of the imagination, to deal knowledgeably and efficiently with all of the issues that demand their attention. With all of that in mind, it is nauseating to see them constantly jockeying for power and perpetually campaigning. We really need these people to study the business before them and to vote. Period.
I believe that we should consider repealing the 17th Amendment to the Constitution; at least the portion that placed our U.S. Senators on a never-ending campaign trail. State Legislators live and work with us, locally in our own state. They have to look us in they eye as we wait in line at the bank. They sit next to us at our children’s band concerts. They will answer to each of us when they decide who will best represent our State’s interests in the Senate.
By removing U.S. Senators from the public campaign trail, they will more likely work to form power centers that represent the interests of their own states, rather than the interests of a national political Party. Perhaps while we are at it, we should exempt U.S. Senators from being eligible for the office of President. That step alone may solve a myriad of problems that have cast the Senate into such a state of disrepair.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, if it is broke then no time is better than the present to make repairs. Just like an infection, the longer we let this problem fester, the smellier it is going to become.
Copyright ©2005, Phil Harris - All Rights Reserved